This blog began as a way to document a body of work I’m developing with Belfast Exposed through an Artists career Enhancement scheme (ACES) grant from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Strengthening the way I work collaboratively was my reason to apply for the award. In particular I wanted to learn more about participatory practice. How could I weave other experiences through my work in a meaningful way while maintaining the integrity of my overall visual arts practice?
Increasingly I’ve been combining the ideas in my main area of work ‘Shadow Dial Studies’ with my creative start up ‘Shadow Studio’. Shadow Studio developed from designing a portable DIY shadow kit and since 2012 I’ve been taking my kits around the UK and Ireland to festivals, art centres and schools to run workshops. I love working with a mix of age groups particularly older people and am curious about how we experience growing older and approach the end of time on a daily basis, in effect exploring the experience of our finitude.
Most of my work takes place within Shadow Dial Studies. A research based practice that uses shadow catching as a photographic method to measure time and the impact it has on identity and memory. I regularly use shadow casting as a way to explore ideas yet never autobiographical aspects of myself or others. I decided to begin doing this with my Dad as my partner and planned to find participants who would work with us by partnering up with a friend or family member of a different age for the project.
I was delighted when Belfast Exposed said they would be happy to be my partner organisation and we got to work developing a proposal for an Arts Council Northern Ireland ACES award that combined Shadow Dial Studies with Shadow Studio.
Originally the project was about how we establish identity through recording time. I was planning to explore it through looking at how photography reveals presence by capturing absences in stories eg: through negatives, shadows, shutters and the involuntary/sub conscious , and my methodology was based on shadow catching.
“One’s relationship to one’s own shadow -which is not the same as oneself, which one does not own, but which is an inescapable attribute and accompaniment, was for me a memorable conundrum. A midpoint between between a familiar self and the otherness of the rest of the world. It is both of one and separate from one’. Wiliam Kentridge, In Praise of Shadows, 2009 p20.